The supernatural comedy action series Noragami is based on the manga series by Adachitoka and is produced by Bones, directed by Tamura Kotaro, with writing by Akao Deko and features character designs by Kawamoto Toshihiro.
The series follows the minor, track-suit wearing god named Yato who, at one time, used to be a god of calamity. Now, however, he has little followers, no shrine to call his own, and his partner has just quit on him, leaving him with no one to help him do battle against phantoms. Meanwhile, Iki Hiyori is just a normal middle school student who likes hanging out with her friends and doing her best to get good grades – that is until she spots the strange Yato trying to rescue a house cat in the middle of the street and, in her haste to save him from getting hit by a bus, she gets hit by herself. From that point on, Hiyori becomes a half-phantom, prone to instantly falling asleep while her soul leaves her body behind, a tail-like tether attached to her from behind which, if it were cut, would result in her losing her life. She enters into a contract with Yato that he is meant to put her life back to normal, but the slacker god with no money, no followers and no shrine to live in has no clue how to set things right. Also, Yato, as it soon becomes clear, has other serious issues to contend with. He eventually finds himself a “Regalia”, a wandering human spirit he names and that can transform into a weapon for him to use in battle against the phantoms that gods must eradicated from the world so they cannot cause harms to humans. His new Regalia, who takes the place of his previous partner, is a tempestuous teenaged boy named Yukine prone to bad thoughts and misdeeds, and every time Yukine does these bad things, it cause great harm to Yato, a harm called “blight” that can kill a god if it goes untreated or becomes to severe. Furthermore, another god of calamity from Yato’s past resurfaces and he means to do great harm to Yato.
I enjoyed the comedic and action aspects of Noragami very much. It’s a very funny series without necessarily trying too hard to be like a lot of anime series wherein physical gags and double entendre are reused and overused. The interaction between Yato, Hiyorin and even Yukine is also very appealing and well thought out. The writers handle the obvious tension between Yato and Hiyorin deftly, especially given the age difference with her only being a middle schooler and him being, presumably, millennia in age and, physically appearing to be at least in his late 20s. So, while there is some girl crush there, the line isn’t ever crossed, and Yato does, even in his perpetually immature state, come across more like an overprotective father.
That said, the series does seem a little chaotic in the way it develops its storyline. While the partnership aspect between Yato, Hiyorin, and Yukine as they do battle against phantoms as Yato tries to build a reputation as a “delivery god” all comes together nicely, a subplot with him being hunted down by fellow combat god Bishamon, a tall, beautiful blonde who commands a host of Regalia, is all but abandoned as the series’ central conflict for another subplot involving a Nora (a Regalia who has abandoned many of the gods it was named by to contract with others, considered a very vile creature) and another god of calamity seeking to destroy Yato. This subplot really only becomes clear in the last quarter or so of the series and resolves in the final episodes, although the Nora does appear earlier.
A tighter story arc would have made this a really perfect series, especially when you see the fantastic graphics of the action sequences and beautiful use of color, but even though it is not perfect, Noragami is still a very satisfying series in this first season.
Noragami is given a good AVC/MPEG-4 1080p encodement on Blu-ray from FUNimation. There is the slightest hint of softness and some instances of slight color banding and a some areas with very mild posterization, but overall the digital animation for this series looks very good, especially in full motion. There is little to get in the way of appreciating the fine imagery, so no worries about motion artifacts, stairstepping, aliasing, or any excessive video or compression noise.
We get the original Japanese-language track in Dolby TrueHD 2.0 stereo and an English dub in Dolby TrueHD 5.1. As with the last FUNimation title I reviewed, Darker Than Black, and with most of the titles from them I review, the mastering level for Noragami is set rather low for both the 2.0 and 5.1 mixes, and dynamic range is narrow. I had to raise the level I normally listen by around 8db to get a decent nominal level. That aside, the mixes themselves are clean wit good dialogue. I prefer the Japanese voice cast by a wide margin, even if I found the English subtitles to be somewhat suspect, not quite literal. The 5.1 mix is fairly average, with only few subtle sound effects in the surround channels, mild atmospherics and subtle low end boost.
- Episode 6 Commentary
- Episode 9 Commentary
- Episode 4 Video Commentary
- Textless Opening Song
- Textless Closing Song
- U.S. Trailer
- FUNimation Trailers
The Definitive Word
Action, comedy, and the supernatural combine with some gorgeously done animation for what is a good, though not perfect, anime series in Noragami. The HD transfer to Blu-ray is pleasing as well.
Additional Screen Captures